Friday The 13th Movie review
By: Justin Hopkins
Welcome to Classic 13! A little monthly blog where we take a look back on a classic. Whether or be a Cult Classic or regular one. Where we take a moment and reflect on some great films. To be honest, when we decided to run with this. My mind made the immediate jump to a more personal favorites, Ginger Snaps. So much so, I nearly forgot that the next 13th, was in fact Friday The 13th and well, Ginger Snaps will just have to wait, because we can’t just ignore the obvious. Especially, when we owe so much to the success of a small film from 1980. So, lets take a camping trip to Camp Crystal Lake, and see how well Friday The 13th still holds up today.
The story was a very simple tale, but crafted and framed very well. You open up with counselors at a summer camp, and two of them are killed. A fast start, which is always a good way to get the ball rolling, and since you don’t see the killer. Mind begins to run on who could it be as a new wave of counselors are introduced a little less then thirty years after the first killings. Starting with Annie. This is where they do something really smart. They give you the quick rundown of Camp “Blood’s” history. A scene that could have been boring, but weaved expertly in building Annie’s character that it becomes a fun back and forth with her and Enos. So much so, on first viewing. Kind of think she could be your main character and feel bad when she dies rather quickly after. You are then trying to find which one of the counselors will be left standing, as they each fall from there. All leading to a frantic cat and mouse chase through the camp, between Pamela and Alice, and the only slow motion moment that I will probably ever give a thumbs up to.
Casting was pretty much spot on for this. Like I mentioned above. Robbi Morgan did so well, in such a little time with the character of Alice that on first viewing, believe she is the main. From her chatting up a dog, back and forth with Enos, and opening up about wanting to help kids. She made every moment of screen time count. A trait shared by everyone really. Had a young Kevin Bacon, Jeannine Taylor, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, and Mark Nelson all delivered fantastically. They were not trying to play stereotypical, cliched characters and that made them special. They all felt like older teens to young adults who are trying to fix up a summer camp. They are doing the usual stuff you’d see in a movie like this, like pot and sex, but it wasn’t overdone or beating you over the head with it. Had they opened the camp, bet they would have been awesome counselors. The two big roles though, were brought to use by Adrienne King playing Alice, and Betsy Palmer, playing Pamela Voorhees.
Feel like Alice doesn’t quite get the love she deserves at times, due to how many strong female leads there have been in the Friday The 13th series alone, but Alice should definitely be high up there. She does a lot of hitting and running, but character wise, kind of makes sense, as she is not a killer. Even with her life on the line, still can’t bring herself to kill Pamela until she is pushed beyond the limit, and it has a visible effect on her. While Betsy Palmer was perfectly cast. Her mannerism and ticks are spot on for a mother who has snapped. Losing her son created such a hatred that it has become her duty to make sure the camp is never opened again. In her mind, every counselor who steps foot inside, are responsible for Jason’s death and must be punished. Together, these two were such good foils and had strong chemistry together.
Friday the 13th also gave us early looks at what the genius that is Tom Savini. A name that is synonymous with horror. Giving us some great kill shots, the one delivered to Kevin Bacon’s character still ranking among the best on the series or when Pamela gets her head lobbed off and they stay on it just long enough to get the gory aftermath of neck bones and blood spurting off the top. They all feel so fresh and unique, because it’s the first ones in the franchise and helped all with the characters all being so likable. Even if you don’t see the blow. The aftermath is so telling that it’s great.
To end the pros. Have to talk about the score. You hear all about Freddy’s lullaby or Michael Myers music, but Friday’s might just be a little bit better. The orchestra is flows between low and soothing to loud and in your face. With the iconic Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma added in. Great way to kick the movie off. When they finally do make a new one, hope they bring it back.
Being the first, it was actually fun to see where cliches got started. Such as the super serious cop, deranged old man trying to warn them away, and them trying to get the last jump scare. Tempted to throw blame at them for the nightmare these would later become, but they do these things so well I can understand why they keep going back to the well, and I can’t bring myself to make Ralph a negative. That would be sacrilegious.
Now on to some negatives and this does have several. They go out of their way to kind of play Steve Christy as a red herring. Creating a little bit of tension between him and Alice. He’s very hectic at the start and drives a similar jeeps to the killers. Wanting to create a who done it, but they failed, because they never introduced Pamela till the unveiling. It was like giving us puzzle pieces to put together, but only giving us a border. Which does give us the feeling of success from piecing it together before the end. Second is you have always of these young people, and besides Alice none fight back. Sure most are stealth kills, but a few have ample opportunity to resist. I get that it is minor. She is suppose to be unassuming and I am being a little to critical, but to have none even try bothered me throughout.
Friday the 13th has earned it’s place as an all-time classic. Halloween, Black Christmas, and Phantasm may be considered the first slashers, but Friday the 13th is what jump started the franchise. Showing that there is a massive audience for this genre and the 80’s are stuffed full, with movies chasing it’s success. It may not be considered the best the franchise has to offer, but the horror genre would be vastly different without it. Final Grade – A minus
Thank you for reading